Wednesday, January 15, 2014

East and West

I thought about the Hammonasett River, a river I've not yet been to and a chance to explore some new waters.  But, as I drove nearer, I thought instead that I'd like to return to a familiar place at an unfamiliar time of the year, an exploration of time rather than place.

I put in just upstream of the mouth of the East River in the summer nesting grounds of a thousand willets, who are nowhere to be seen unless you happen to be in South America, but instead of going upstream into known territory, I turn down and out onto the sea, so inviting in the sun and calm.  And, I round the wide rocky point to the mouth of the West River, new water to me.  The fog follows me in, catching me not too many hundreds of yards upstream.  It's thick only for a few moments and remains translucent, softening the man-made landmarks that edge parts of the marsh.  It's the dream time of places farther away than here. 

A hiker on the north side scares up a hundred and fifty Canada geese who go on honking their displeasure at the disturbance until they are out of earshot.  I spook three buffleheads and a few black ducks. 

A large motor yacht lies at a steep list near the forest edge and across three hundred yards of spartina salt marsh, a relic of the last hurricane that has been allowed to stay where it landed for some reason.  If it was a wooden boat, it might harbor more interesting spirits than does the fiberglass hull that it is.

When the sun burns through, the marsh continues to steam, a ground fog drifting with the light wind and rising as if coming from dozens of unseen warm pools. 

The fishing boat, 'Night Heron'

Past the railroad bridge, I surprise quite a few hooded mergansers.  They are most distrustful of the canoe and take flight at two hundred yards or more.  The next bridge is for the scenic coastal road into the town of Guilford and it is far too low for the canoe to pass under.  With an easy portage across the road I could continue upstream, but I am satisfied enough to come back later and turn back.

I pass my put in on the East River and continue upstream against an ebbing tide that is nearing the steep part of the curve. 

The shack at the mouth of the East River

When I think that the labor is not producing much speed, I stop looking at the bank and watch bits of vegetation speed past in the water.  The current is moving pretty good.  Just short of the railroad bridge, I spot an upside down house in the mud.  This is a most unusual specimen and although it is rotting some, it is a finely made structure with paned windows and metal scroll work holding up the porch roof over the front door.

I collect it, of course.

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